With the exception of the excerpt from Steve Rogers” column, the following quotes were taken from a Sept. 17 joint meeting of the Lowndes County Supervisors and the Columbus City Council to discuss the county”s recreation needs. They were compiled by Birney Imes.
If you could do the football/soccer complex, what was drawn on the charrette, that Central Park look, … keep those good old trees and all that stuff down in Burns Bottom that improves that part of the community. You”ve got the CVB deal with Castleberry. This is the front door of our town I”m talking about. The Gilmer is unsightly. … We”ve got a developer who wants to build a hotel down there (Mark Castleberry has expressed interest in building a Holiday Inn Express contingent on a soccer park being built in Burns Bottom.).
Everybody is talking about a new convention center. Folks you can”t afford a new convention center. … I don”t think any of you would pass the millage increase needed to operate and maintain a new convention center. Make Trotter as good as it can get.
I would be OK with the county purchasing that property (Burns Bottom) and the city not having to put out any money. … My thinking that the county would do the preliminary site work, engineering work … The county would go ahead and finish the project with the stipulation … if the city would commit that they would take the tax money from the bed tax (estimated to be $200,000 a year) and use that money for the renovation of the Trotter Convention Center … We could work all that out and it (the soccer park) wouldn”t cost the city any money.
When you get down to it, it doesn”t cost the city anything other than a commitment to redo the Trotter.
I”m suggesting that the community parks are not adequate … Let”s be open-minded. Soccer fields are one component of recreation. It”s not going to be a panacea. I”m for soccer.
I don”t have any problem if the city can”t come up with 50 percent. I don”t see county-city. I see the city as the face of the county. If the city collapses, the county collapses. I didn”t come here to factor in the Trotter and a hotel. I was looking strictly at a comprehensive recreation plan.
If we can do one big thing, lets do the comprehensive recreation plan, get it out of the way and then we can come back to the table.
One thing that concerns me is that we only have three people signed with a consent to sell in Burns Bottom. At this point we really don”t have Burns Bottom locked in. (Higgins assured Ferguson that the Link has verbal commitments from landowners whose participation is essential to the development of the complex. Charleigh Ford is coordinating negotiations with the landowners.)
I am in total support of the soccerplex. My concern is that neighborhood parks are not being discussed. We”ve all decided that recreation is a vital part of our community. In my community, it”s a lifeline outside the church; that”s all we”ve got in my community, churches and parks. I cannot come here and talk about one and not express the concerns of the people I represent. That doesn”t mean I”m torpedoing the soccerplex. I”m for the soccerplex.
Steve Rogers (from his column at WCBI.com)
The prolonged debate over a location (for the soccer complex) is symbolic of the community”s long-standing approach to community development. No one blinks at spending millions of dollars on industrial recruitment, but we can”t agree to invest a fraction of that on our quality of life.
One time, just one time, we must look beyond smokestacks.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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